Many companies have begun to offer remote employment positions since the coronavirus has taken its toll around the world. Though it had been gaining traction prior to the spring of 2020, more companies than ever before have responded to the need to slow the spread of the virus and protect those who are most vulnerable with work-from-home opportunities. There are a number of benefits to working from home, but there are also some negatives. It is a lot easier for employees to feel disconnected and less engaged with their coworkers and companies. As this lack of connectivity generally leads to low morale and decreased productivity, as a manager, you need to put your focus on keeping remote employees engaged and thriving in their new positions.
Make Your Employers Aware of Health and Wellness Needs
While it seems that the coronavirus is here to stay and is still a real threat, you need to adopt a long-term approach to the health and wellness of your employees. If your employees fall or suffer from mental health conditions like depression or anxiety, they won’t be able to give their best or perform in a way that is productive. You may all be working from different locations, but you can still encourage them to make their health a priority. There are many creative ways to motivate your employees to get more active, even while at home. Develop a wellness incentive, whether it’s a walk for 10 minutes a day for a month, a healthy recipe exchange, or a subscription to a wellness channel or virtual fitness plan. It is important to demonstrate that you care about their well-being. Adjust the schedule for a month to let employees spend extra time outside or with their families. Have flexible lunch hours to give employees time to prepare a healthy meal. Find ways to keep your employees physically healthy and mentally engaged.
Keep Your Employees in the Loop
With everyone spread out, it is harder to know what is going on in the different departments or areas of the company. Find ways to maintain regular communication, but using more than just emails or voice calls. There are a number of phone platforms where you can call the UK from US-based offices, showing there is no limitation or restriction on how many employees you can reach or where you can reach them. Google Hangouts, Trello, and Slack provide ways to collaborate in real-time with each other, and you can use Zoom for things like virtual team meetings where you physically see each employee. Instant messaging, video calls and web conferencing platforms don’t have to be limited to work-related topics. Plan for chats where this is nothing stressful or company-related to talk about. Call to check on your employees and their families. Video chat to let someone know they have been doing great work. Keep in contact with your employees if you want them to stay excited and engaged with the team.
Cultivate Strong Interpersonal Relationships
Since you will not physically be seeing your team members each day, it can be easy to forget about their personal lives and the things they may be going through. Even though they are working from home, they will still deal with family problems, illness, tragedy, and other emotional situations that can impact their work performance. Rather than attack an individual for a noticeable decline in productivity, reach out to make sure everything is okay. Recognize that they may be struggling to adapt to working in isolation or evaluate whether they have the tools needed to do their job from home. There could be a number of things impacting an employee’s transition to remote employment, but you won’t know any of this if you don’t know your employees. Sincerely check up on them and let them know you are ready to help in any way possible.
Let Your Employees Be Heard
Your employees will still be your most valuable insight in evaluating how things with company morale are going. They still want to be noticed and valued, in spite of not being able to physically gather around the conference room for weekly meetings. Give your employees a sense of value through personal thank-you notes or a gift card celebrating their work anniversary. Send birthday notices that can be read by the entire company. Highlight employees who have gone above and beyond in their work through a weekly newsletter or email brief. Encourage your employees to reach out if they have concerns or feedback on what has been going on and look for ways to implement good suggestions. Limit miscommunication and maintain an open-door policy, even though separated by distance. Really listen and empathize when an employee confides in you.
Use Games to Engage Employees
Some companies have turned to integrate game-playing elements in the work environment to instill customer loyalty and generate creative, excited engagement. This tactic is called gamification, and it relies on competitions and rewards attached to everyday activities. Team membership is more than just a position. Employees need to feel that a relationship exists with the team members. These relationships are developed through cooperation and collaborations, and companies can use competitions or team-based goals to spur cohesion among team members. If you aren’t familiar with how this works, there are fame-based performance management systems that you can use to get started in evaluation criteria and performance metrics.
These are unique ways to keep your remote employees feeling connected to the company. Connectivity fosters increased engagement and develops positive morale.